Flight attendants demand action against unruly passengers from DOJ, FAA

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A flight attendant union is asking federal officials to take action against unruly passengers, claiming their behavior has gotten "out of control" and is putting other flyers and flight crews at risk.

After conducting a recent survey of nearly 5,000 flight attendants, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA found that 85% have faced unruly passengers in recent months as air travel levels climbed. 

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More than half, about 58%, had at least five incidents so far this year, while 17% said they experienced a "physical incident." 

This proves that any existing measures in place are "failing to address the problem" of disruptive and even physically aggressive passengers, according to the union. 

Cabin crew with facemask showing the safety demonstration. (Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

To address the problem, the union is urging the Justice Department to use "existing statute to conduct criminal prosecution, and implement a series of actions proposed by our union to keep problems on the ground and respond effectively in the event of incidents." 

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It is also calling on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make its zero-tolerance policy permanent. The policy was adopted in January after the agency saw a "disturbing increase in incidents where airline passengers have disrupted flights with threatening or violent behavior," the FAA said. 

"The vitriol, verbal and physical abuse from a small group of passengers is completely out of control, and is putting other passengers and flight crew at risk," Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said.

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Although many issues stem from passengers refusing to wear masks, Nelson said "there is a lot more going on here and the solutions require a series of actions in coordination across aviation."  

As of July 27, there have already been 3,615 incident reports, according to the FAA’s most recent report.

"This is not a ‘new normal’ we are willing to accept," Nelson added. 

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